Games, not names.
That's something that is often overlooked in the evaluation of NFL players, whether by fans, scouts, media or just about anybody.
We get caught up in the hype of a player who has the name and the reputation, but not the game. That's why each summer I put together a list of the NFL's Most Overrated and Most Underrated players.
The underrated list is easy to do. There are countless players who don't get the attention or due they deserve.
It's the overrated list that's tough.
But each year I pick one player from each team who I consider overrated and then come up with the league's most-overrated player.
That player this year is ... Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson.
Wilson played himself off my list last year. While I don't think he's great like some, he's very good. But he's not the pick, so simmer down Wilson cult.
The pick for this year's most-overrated player is ... another Seattle player: safety Kam Chancellor.
He's a solid NFL safety, but his reputation would make you think he's Ronnie Lott in his prime.
Chancellor is a big hitter, which is why the highlight shows love him, but he has never been good in coverage and that was exposed even more last season. In the past four seasons, he has six interceptions and he doesn't do a great job when asked to cover tight ends.
The game has changed. Some 10 to 15 years ago Chancellor would have been an all-out star. But with offenses spread out, he's becoming more of a liability.
To be fair, he did hold out last season and missed two games, and never seemed to regain his form of a few years ago. I've always said I would take a cover player over a big hitter, which is why Chancellor is the guy who tops my list of the NFL's Most Overrated.
Here's the rest of the list:
He caught 52 passes with six touchdowns, but the talent is there for so much more. He did come on late in the season with several 100-yard games, but this is an important year for Floyd with so many talented young receivers waiting their turn to do more.
The Falcons paid him a lot of money, but is he really anything more than a reliable second receiver? He has 152 catches in four seasons and just 11 touchdown catches. He's getting a lot of money for a guy who is just OK.
Without Terrell Suggs on the other side commanding all the attention, Dumervil saw his sack numbers drop in a big way last season from 17 to six. Forced to play more on early downs, he struggled against the run. The Ravens have to hope he isn't coming to the end and he can bounce back with Suggs back on the field after missing last season with a torn Achilles tendon.
He had three 100-yard rushing games last season and missed the final two games, four overall, with hamstring and knee injuries. At 28, you have to wonder if the wear-and-tear on his body is starting to show.
Yes, he played well in two playoff games, but during the regular season he had just two 100-yard games and he averaged 4.1 per rush. That's not close to being good enough on a run-first team. He's not nearly as good as his reputation and injuries have hurt his production.
When he's on the field, he's a good player -- not a top-five receiver. But availability has been a problem. He's started 16 games just once in his four seasons with the Bears and had only eight starts last season. That's probably why the Bears didn't give him a long-term extension, but rather put the franchise tag on him to make this a show-me season.
He is the starter in the middle of their defense, but he doesn't run well enough anymore. He started 14 games last season, but his skills are eroding. He's still OK, but his lack of speed shows up on tape. Vincent Rey, who has been mostly a backup, is a better option now.
His decline is one of the biggest mysteries in the league: What happened to Joe Haden? Early in his career, he looked to be one of the rising stars at corner. But injuries have piled up and he hasn't been the same player he was early in his career even when he's been on the field. Now in his seventh season, he has to stay healthy and show he can still get it done outside. He did have ankle surgery after the season.
When Dez Bryant went down, Williams didn't step up as expected. He clearly showed he needs a player like Bryant to help him be successful. Yes, there were quarterback issues when Tony Romo went down, but he needed to do more than just catch 52 passes.
He isn't close to being the player he was early in his career, yet the Broncos will count on him to step in and start at left tackle. Okung has battled injuries in recent years, missing 10 games in that span, including three last season for Seattle. The Broncos signed him as a free agent.
This former first-round pick struggled at left tackle last season, even though the Lions kept saying he was their long-term answer. Now with the drafting of Taylor Decker, he is moving to the right side with the hope that will help him improve his play.
When Jordy Nelson went down in the preseason last summer, the idea was Cobb would be the go-to guy and show he could be a No. 1 receiver. That didn't work out. It was evident that he's clearly a better player when he has help outside. He's a good player, but last season showed he's not a No. 1 receiver.
When the Texans were struggling on defense early last season, Wilfork was a big reason why. He wasn't holding the point as he once did and his play was continuing the trend from New England on the downward spiral. He did play better later in the season when they cut his snaps, but he isn't nearly as good as his name would lead one to believe.
The Colts gave him an extension before the 2015 season, but his play tailed off some. I still think he can be a solid left tackle, but he wasn't as good last season as he was the year before. He did miss time with injuries.
He signed a big contract last season and then missed the first four games with a thumb injury. It took him a while to get going, and he did catch 46 passes. But he averaged just 9.9 yards per catch. That's not good enough value for his contract. The 2016 season will be big for him personally.
Coming off back surgery, he didn't play up to standards last season. He had just one sack in 15 games after combining to get 10.5 the previous two seasons. This is a big year for Poe who is in a contract year.
The second pick of the 2014 NFL Draft has really struggled in his two seasons with the Rams. He struggled with penalties and he hasn't improved in pass protection. The Rams thought it would take some time coming out of run-heavy Auburn, but he hasn't made the strides they expected. He did work some this offseason with LeCharles Bentley in Arizona on his technique, so maybe he can show improvement.
Games, not names. That applies here. Williams, who was the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, is coming off a season in Buffalo where he flat-out dogged it. Unhappy with the scheme, he took plays off and seemed to lollygag through games. That's why he was released and is now with the Dolphins. Maybe a change of scenery will help, but he wasn't good in 2015. Games, not names.
He had 46 catches last season with five touchdowns, which isn't good enough for a player with his ability. In fairness to him, he was asked to stay in and block more to help compensate for a banged-up offensive line. But to look at him, you would expect more in the passing game. Maybe this will be the year.
He dropped from 90 catches in 2014 to 53 last season. His yards-per-catch dropped from 10.2 to 8.3. That's not good for a player who turns 30 next March. That is a bit of a red flag. He's been a good player, but by the talk you'd think the Patriots acquired another Gronk when they landed Bennett. Not quite. He is a good blocker, which will help the run game.
He remains the starter at free safety, but he hasn't come close to living up to the expectations the team had for him when he signed a big contract in 2014. He looks like a completely different player than the one we saw in his early years in Buffalo. Injuries have limited him to 17 games in two seasons with the Saints, but when he's been on the field he hasn't played well. It's been a bad signing so far.
Even though he played some of his best football last season for the Rams, the Giants are paying him like he's a shutdown corner. The ability is there, but the constancy is not. He gambles too much at times and he is too aggressive in his tackling, causing misses. This is a chance for Jenkins to prove his talent and consistency have meshed for his new team.
He has missed 30 games in the past three seasons for injuries, some of them major, and missed the entire 2015 season for Denver with a knee injury. Clady played all 16 games in 2014, but his play tailed off some from his early years. Even so, he will be the Jets left tackle this season. At 29, he still has time to get back to his Pro Bowl form.
It's always interesting to see a guy go from underrated to overrated, which is what Reese has done in his career. He went to his fourth Pro Bowl last season, but had no business doing so. He seemed to be phased out of the offense last season. A few years back, his versatility was a big part of the Oakland offense, making him a fan favorite. Now he's overrated.
He was once considered one of the best in the league, but age is starting to impact his play. He was hampered some by injuries last season and he did miss two games. But at 34, he isn't the player he used to be, even if some still think he is that. Maybe a change in coaching staffs will help.
Here's another player who was woefully underrated a few years back, but now is the opposite. At 30, he doesn't run like he once did and that showed up last season on tape. He was even taken off the field in some sub-packages, which hadn't happened for most of his career. He's still solid, but his play is falling off.
The Chargers signed him to a five-year, $36-million deal last spring and he certainly didn't play up to that last season. He missed six games with injuries and when he was on the field, he didn't look like a top-dollar guard. After playing so well for the Broncos in 2014, he needs to get back to that form in 2016 or he will likely be gone after the season.
He deserves a ton of credit for getting back on the field after his awful knee injury in January of 2013. He missed all of 2014, but came back to play 16 games last season. He wasn't the same player, which is why he's on this list. There are some who actually think he was the same type of player he was before the injury. That's why he's here. I think that might happen this year.
He sat out the team's first two games in a contract dispute and never seemed to regain his footing as the big-hitting safety in their secondary. He just wasn't the same player, and had problems at times in coverage, which has been his weakness for a while. Fans and media members get excited about his big hits, but he needs to improve his coverage skills and make more plays on the ball.
You see the talent, and you drool. So where's the production? If this kid ever gets focused, he has a chance to be a talented, pass-catching tight end. He had 21 catches last season, but he averaged 16.1 yards on those catches, which is telling in terms of his ability. He got sent out of practice during OTAs by coach Dirk Koetter, which might be a wakeup call.
While most people think his one-year stop in Philadelphia will turn out to be an aberration, I do not. I think his career is on the downside. He averaged 3.6 per carry last season and he's entering his sixth season. Running back careers go off a cliff. Is his?
Norman is a good player. But he's not a great player. That's why he's on this list. He was perfect in the Carolina defense where corners can be hidden some behind the pass rush. It will be interesting to see how he plays on this Washington defense. Can he be more of a man-cover player?